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Benchmark Your Training With Our Learning Solution Scorecard

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All training is designed to help target learners improve their performance, but that’s not where the story ends. Stakeholders and training vendors are also judged by the success or failure of a learning solution.

We all have a lot to gain when training meets its intended goal. And we have just as much to lose when it doesn’t. When learning solutions are successful, job performance improves, satisfaction increases, the business meets its goals, and L&D professionals receive more budget (!) to make an even greater impact.

And when training fails to improve performance, well… we won’t get into that.


By the way, did you know we’ll be exhibiting at ATD International Conference & Expo again this year? We’ll be at booth #834. Learn how you can register with us and save!

The definition of a successful learning solution can be subjective. There isn’t a consistent rubric to measure learning solutions against each other to see which ones are the best. Award programs like Brandon Hall and CLO help with this to some extent, but unless you plan to submit every learning solution you create for an award, benchmarking is tough.

That’s why we created our Learning Solution Scorecard. We introduce it to clients at the beginning of every project to coach them on what factors will make their training succeed. We use it at the end of projects to measure their success. And we use the scorecard during a project to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

By scoring learning solutions across four categories, we are able to assess whether they are Performance Accelerating, Performance Promoting or Performance Demoting.

Is the learning solution meaningful?

Meaningful learning solutions are linked to a clearly defined business problem or need. They are designed with the needs and motivations of target learners in mind and have a clear learning solution goal that defines what learners need to do differently based on the training.

Is it memorable?

When we say memorable, we mean that learners should be able to remember what they learned and apply it on the job. The scorecard checks for a variety of instructional design approaches based on learning science to make sure the learning solution maximizes retention and recall.

Is it engaging?

By understanding the target learner, we can create solutions they will find engaging. The scorecard checks to verify that the learning materials have high production value and use innovative approaches where appropriate to enhance the learning experience.

Is it supported post-training?

Learners need more than one touch-point to remember new information and skills. The scorecard verifies that mechanisms are in place to ensure performance on the job. It also makes sure supervisors encourage and monitor the learner’s efforts in applying the learning.

Get the scorecard

How Gestalt Can Help You Create Better Training: This Month on #BLPLearn

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Welcome back to our #BLPLearn blog series, where we offer a monthly look at design and technology as it pertains to learning and development. I’m your host, Jake Huhn… Senior Marketing Technologist at Bottom-Line Performance.

Let’s Talk About Gestalt Principles

Learning design and graphic design sometimes feel like two distant worlds. When you’re building a course—or working with a vendor—and you’re responsible for results, it can make graphic design seem like a trivial afterthought. You’re concerned with making sure every word is perfect, and making sure every step is explained thoroughly, and making sure you provide accurate definitions. Where’s the time to worry about how “pretty” that screen looks?

But I want to encourage you to make graphic design a higher priority—and there’s science to back me up.

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It all has to do with Gestalt Principles of Organization. “The Gestalt principles of organization involve observations about the ways in which we group together various stimuli to arrive at perceptions of patterns and shapes.” [Gestalt Principles of Organization] These principles are essentially graphic design 101, and every designer should at least be familiar with them. And researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia have shown how Gestalt theory can help improve learning:

“The new screen designs were then evaluated by asking students and others to compare the designs. The viewers were also asked to rate directly the value of using the eleven Gestalt design principles in the redesign, both for improving the product’s appearance and improving its value for learning.The evaluation results were overwhelmingly positive. Both the new design and the value of applying the eleven Gestalt laws to improve learning were strongly supported by the students’ opinions.”

These researchers aren’t alone, either. Other research has shown how these principles facilitate Visual Working Memory, an essential part of learning and other cognitive processes.

Implications for Learning Design

As a graphic designer, I gravitate towards how beautiful, clean design can improve learners’ comprehension of a course… but there’s more that Gestalt theory can offer learning designers. Gestalt is more than graphic design, it’s an entire psychology of perception—and it can improve more than just looks.

Consider what Gestalt theory teaches us about Similarity. Learning is facilitated if similar ideas are treated and linked together and then contrasted with opposing or complementary sets of ideas.

It can also shape the way you challenge your learners (think quizzing). “The Gestalt theory of learning purports the importance of presenting information or images that contain gaps and elements that don’t exactly fit into the picture. This type of learning requires the learner to use critical thinking and problem solving skills. Rather than putting out answers by rote memory, the learner must examine and deliberate in order to find the answers they are seeking.” [Gestalt Theory (von Ehrenfels)]

And bringing it back to where we started, the graphic design of your learning solution (the proximity of text to images, the negative space, the clean lines) is yet another piece of the puzzle when it comes to facilitating proper learning. If you organize your information and images according to these principles, your learning solution will look beautiful and be more effective.

So Take the Time to Learn About Gestalt Theory

I hope I’ve made the case that taking graphic design 101 can actually benefit your learning design. There is a lot of information on the web—from either universities or graphic design authorities—that can help give you an overview of Gestalt principles in design. A great starting point is this Designer’s Guide to Gestalt Theory on Creative Bloq. From there you can dive into the actual psychology and even explore eLearning Industry’s website for more industry specific coverage.

References

Chang, Dempsey, Laurence Dooley, and Juhani E. Tuovinen. “Gestalt Theory in Visual Screen Design: A New Look at an Old Subject.” Proceedings of the Seventh World Conference on Computers in Education Conference on Computers in Education: Australian Topics 8 (2002). Accessed March 27, 2016. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=820062.

“Gestalt Theory (von Ehrenfels).” Learning-Theories.com. 2014. Accessed March 27, 2016. http://www.learning-theories.com/gestalt-theory-von-ehrenfels.html.

Peterson, Dwight J., and Marian E. Berryhill. “The Gestalt Principle of Similarity Benefits Visual Working Memory.” Psychon Bull Rev. 20, no. 6 (December 20, 2013): 1282-289. Accessed March 27, 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3806891/#R23.

“Gestalt Principles of Organization.” Psychology Encyclopedia. 2013. Accessed March 27, 2016. http://psychology.jrank.org/pages/278/Gestalt-Principles-Organization.html.

Why “70:20:10” Is Not Enough

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In a recent article, Bill Brandon speculates that we’ve hit a tipping point in the workplace. Learning demands placed on workers have exceed workers’ capacity to meet them. In other words, we are inundating today’s workers with training and asking them to complete all of it while still maintaining high levels of productivity. This really struck a chord with me… because I see it happening again and again in our clients’ organizations.

I liked Brandon’s article and tweeted it out, saying it was a nice piece… and it was. However, I found myself going back to it and feeling like Brandon neglected a very important point. He advocated for us to think about three elements that all contribute to our accomplishments and performance in the workplace:

  • Our skills and knowledge
  • Our shared experience (things gleaned from others, informal learning we do via social networks, interactions with peers, etc.)
  • Our individual experience (things we learn by doing)

Brandon felt that if L&D professionals thought less in terms of “courses” and used the 70-20-10 “rule of thumb” to consider how to help someone build competence, then we’d be better off. (Caution flag here: 70-20-10 is NOT a proven model; it is described by the person who originally coined it as “folklore.” See page 5 of this journal article written by the originator of 70-20-10, Morgan McCall.) Brandon advocated that we embrace social learning and learning pathways as the means of reducing the stress and burnout so many are experiencing.

The Elephant in the Room

While I do not disagree that avenues other than courses can be hugely valuable in helping build people’s proficiencies, I realized that the article failed to mention the elephant in the stress/burnout room. The elephant is time, or rather lack thereof. Learning takes time, whether we do it informally or formally. In today’s workplaces, we’re pushing people to do more and more. We are failing to acknowledge what this “more and more” often means: we are asking people to go way beyond 40 hours in their work week to do the learning required to build and maintain proficiency and to do the work that contributes to company profits.

Harold Jarche had it right when he said that in today’s economy, work is learning and learning is the work. THAT is the model employers and employees have to get into our heads…that learning on the job is simply part of doing our jobs.

To manage stress and minimize burnout, we have to incorporate “learning curve” into the work people do. We have to factor this learning curve into the time things will take to complete and the amount someone will accomplish in a day or a week. And because people are constantly figuring out how to do something while they are working on their projects, we have to build in this constant “learning curve” into our expectations of what people will accomplish and how fast they will accomplish it.

In My Experience.

I run a business and our formula for billable time is not 40 hours a week. Depending on the team member’s role, we estimate that 80% of their time can be devoted to billable tasks. The remainder is allocated to learning and administrative tasks. Giving people time to learn on the job is essential in an industry where we need to stay on the leading edge of what’s possible re: learning solutions. We have communities of practice that people are part of, we have weekly link-sharing and discussions, we have periodic all-company “demo-fests” where we share out projects with each other. On top of all that, we have periodic formal courses that people will attend to build skills in niche areas. All these things take time…in addition to the constant learning someone does in the course of executing projects.

So Bill Brandon, I most definitely agree that we can and should think beyond formal courses in helping people build proficiency. But we cannot do so – even via informal means – if we fail to acknowledge that we have to build the time in for people to learn. Even looking something up requires time.

Should Instructional Designers “Teach to the Test”?

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There is a lot of angst these days in the education field about “teaching to the test.” It started in K-12 but it’s crept into corporate speak as well. Some say that tests are no longer relevant. They are viewed as hold-overs of an out-of-touch education system. A growing bandwagon of people are saying that they want to help people learn to problem-solve and do critical thinking… and not just memorize facts.

In the corporate world, people really do need to recall facts to do their jobs well. There are plenty of times where being able to “Google it” is not enough: they need to know it if they want to perform their job efficiently and/or safely. In compliance and safety situations, we need some objective verification that they do know it before they are allowed to perform the job. This is needed both to satisfy OSHA regulations and as a way to protect the employee and business.

Case in Point

I sat on a materials review call for a course we are developing within the healthcare industry. This particular scenario asks quite a bit from the learner:

  1. They need to be able to recall the steps to performing a variety of tasks.
  2. They need to select the appropriate tools to do specifics jobs.
  3. They need to be able to correctly put on personal protective equipment (PPE) when entering spaces where high-risk infections are present.
  4. They need to know what protective equipment is required in specific situations, which means they need to recognize different signage located outside patient rooms.

The entire course concludes with a certification test. The test directly links to what this role needs to know…and know how to do. I was concerned to hear a materials reviewer push to add course content that was not going to be part of the test.  This reviewer said, “We need to go beyond teaching to the test.” The implication was that we would fail the learner if we only include content that will be on the test. In essence, we want to give them a smorgasbord of information and heighten their competency by doing so.

What's Wrong with the Test

What’s Wrong With The Test?

We act as if it is shameful if we “only” teach to a test, but why? I suspect many of us believe that we are dumbing things down if we do just focus on a test. Perhaps we are afraid that teaching to a test limits our ability to deliver a rich, meaningful experience that elevates the general abilities of the learner. Too often, we want to turn people into the experts that we are rather than arming them with basic proficiency to do their jobs well.

What’s the risk? If we mix nice-to-know and need-to-know content, learners will likely experience cognitive overload. Worse, we risk them remembering some of the irrelevant information at the expense of the most relevant information.*

What does “Good” Look Like?

A good test should be an accurate assessment of the body of knowledge learners need to know to perform their jobs. If appropriate, it should also assess the skills people have or their decision-making ablity when judgment is a component of executing the job. It should only assess the knowledge and skill required to do the job. Courses that are designed to teach steps, processes, and the “why’s” behind those steps and processes need to keep their focus laser-sharp. People can only remember so much.

If it is essential that workers recall a specific body of knowledge and apply that knowledge to the execution of a set of procedures and processes then, please, don’t include anything that is not essential to them.

The problem is not tests. The problem is bad tests. Bad tests contain irrelevant material. Bad tests are poorly worded. Bad tests are too easy or too hard. Bad tests are not comprehensive, covering all the knowledge and skills critical to a job or situation.

Please do teach to the test… But only if you want to verify that people gained the skill and knowledge you have defined as essential to successful performance of the job.

—-

*- Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer, The Science of Instruction, New Jersey: Pfeiffer, 2011.

Maybe you have a training need that requires some additional analysis? You can use our free Training Needs Analysis Worksheet to get to the heart of the matter.

The Science of Remembering: Strategies for Long-Term Retention (Free Webinar)

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Employees are required to complete a lot of training during the year, so much so that it is simply impossible for them to remember everything that is asked of them. Sharon Boller spoke to these challenges in her recent white paper: “When Remembering Really Matters: Learning Strategies for Long-Term Retention.” The white paper includes strategies for both learning and remembering, emphasizing the need to improve the effectiveness of the initial training event as well as the post-training reinforcement strategy.

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VP of Client Relations Leanne Batchelder took these ideas a step further last week at CLN Week West. Her session included expanded case studies of clients where we have applied the science of learning and remembering to achieve tangible business results.

If increasing what employees remember is a priority for you in your role, I encourage you to join Leanne and I for our upcoming webinar, “The Science of Remembering: Proven Techniques for Helping Learners Obtain New Knowledge and Skills.” The webinar is based off of Leanne’s CLN Week West presentation, but also includes some expanded “show and tell” from our custom eLearning projects.

The webinar will be held on Tuesday, June 3rd at 1 pm PDT, 10 am EDT. Click here to register.

Leanne will spotlight two corporate learning case studies that show how incorporating research-based design techniques into your learning solutions will improve knowledge and skill retention, and ultimately drive business outcomes. We’ll take a look at what we did, how we did it, and the results we achieved with a single online learning game for ExactTarget sales reps and a larger, blended curriculum for Roche Diagnostics customers.

What Will You Learn?

4 proven strategies that inhibit forgetting and enhance remembering.

Explanation, examples and research behind specific learning design techniques: spaced learning, distributed practice, repetition, feedback and more.

The real cost of not remembering

ASTD estimates that in 2012, organizations invested $164.2 billion in employee training. How much of your training investment goes to waste?

Ways to incorporate these strategies into a single learning solution or large curriculum

Case studies from our work with Roche Diagnostics and ExactTarget demonstrate how these learning strategies impact business results

How to put it all together

Perhaps most importantly of all, the expanded webinar includes a summary of five business challenges we solved for our clients using a combination of these strategies.

This webinar has already taken place. Click the button below to view a recording.

What Will Corporate Learners Remember from your Training?

This is an excerpt from our white paper, When Remembering Really Matters: Learning Strategies for Long-Term Retention. The white paper includes eight strategies to improve learning and remembering. Here is Part 1:

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How confident are you that learners really remember what they learn from training delivered in your organization? When a week or a month has passed, how much of what they learned can they recall?

Some of you may respond by replying, “That’s not my priority,” which may be true. Sometimes the goal of training is not about changing learners’ knowledge or skill. Instead the goal is to verify that learners completed the training. Your organization needs to provide organizational proof of compliance or proof that they communicated information. In these instances, you may equate course completion with “ef- fective training.” The question of whether your learners will actually remember the content covered in the training a week or a month afterward is never asked.

THE COST OF NOT REMEMBERING

moneystackBut what about times when remembering REALLY matters? Organizations typically have business challenges to address and growth goals to reach. Leaders frequently identify training as a required el- ement for meeting these challenges or driving growth, and organizations spend billions of dollars cre- ating and delivering these solutions. ASTD estimates that in 2012 organizations spent approximately 164.2 billion on employee training.

Is that money well spent, or is it wasted? Imagine that you are in charge of designing and imple- menting a learning solution that addresses one of the business problems on the next page. What would your solution look like?*

moneybagEmployee turnover in a pivotal role is over 20%; the goal is 10%

A thorough performance analysis pinpoints lack of skill and experience as one of the drivers of the unac- ceptably high turnover. How much money do you save the company if you can design mem- orable training…and how much do you cost the company if you design training that doesn’t work? (Answer: millions of dollars)

peopleiconA home dialysis equipment manufacturer recognizes revenue growth is stifled by three issues:

1) Patients select home therapy, complete the expensive train- ing for it, but opt out of the home therapy after only a few weeks. 2) The time to train a single patient takes too long. 3) Centers can only train one patient at a time on the therapy, which means only .65 patients per month get trained. They want to reduce the patient drop rate, cap the length of the training at four weeks, and double the number of patients trained in a month’s time. How do you redesign it to produce the required business result?

timeA company wants to roll out a brand new product in a brand new sector.

The sales and support teams are completely unfamiliar with the product offering, and the sector is new to them as well. To make things even more challenging, these teams support products across nine different product lines with new product releases rolling out approxi- mately every two months. How in the world do you get them to remember THIS product? What sales revenue is lost if you cannot produce training that is memorable to members of the sales and support teams?

hospitalHospital labs spend well into six figures to acquire lab equipment your company sells.

Your agreement specifies that you provide them with a customer support specialist until they achieve competency in its use. Each week that your customer support tech spends in a lab is a week the tech isn’t available to assist with a new installation. You don’t want to hire more techs; you want to reduce the time each tech needs to spend with a customer AND you want your customers’ ramp-up time to be reduced. How do you redesign the training to achieve these results? What’s the cost of trainees not remembering here?

phoneSomeone has a heart attack on your corporate campus and passes out.

Because you have a large campus with more than a dozen different buildings, the safety pro- tocol is to dial an internal number to report an emergency rather than calling 911. What’s the cost here if those who witness the emergency do not remember what number to dial for help? This heart attack really happened at one of our client sites, and the individual who witnessed it DID know what to do because she had completed the safety training we created…and re- membered it. Would your employees remember yours? Would your training save a life?

When Remembering Really Matters – New White Paper from Sharon Boller

Sharon Boller, President of Bottom-Line Performance, has authored a new white paper: When Remembering Really Matters: Learning Strategies for Long-Term Retention. It’s full of research, case studies, and advice for learning professionals ready to reduce the amount of information learners forget from all types of training.

Here’s what is covered in the white paper:

What will learners remember?

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The question is not asked often enough in most organizations. Research shows us that most of what we learn is forgotten after a learning event, so what can we as learning professionals do to combat this in our designs?

The Cost of Not Remembering

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Managers, Directors, and VP’s are painfully aware of what happens when critical training concepts are forgotten. ASTD estimates that in 2012, organizations invested $164.2 billion in employee training. How much of your training investment goes to waste?

Remembering is hard; forgetting is easy

You’ve probably heard of Herman Ebbinghaus’ famous “Forgetting Curve,” based on research done in the late 19th century. While the curve can approach 90% in terms of total information forgotten, more recent research shows that the Forgetting Curve is highly variable. Regardless of the exact percentage, What percentage of what we learn do YOU think is okay to forget?

Four Strategies to Foster Long-Term Retention

Sharon introduces four proven strategies that inhibit forgetting and enhance remembering. You’ll learn more about how to apply these strategies, and the research behind them, in the white paper:

  1. Provide frequent, spaced intervals of learning instead of “glops” or “unrepeated waves.”
  2. Provide multiple repetitions.
  3. Provide immediate feedback for mistakes, and make sure learners get it right before moving forward.
  4. Use stories to drive the learning experience.

All of these strategies are explained in detail within the white paper.

Learning comes before remembering

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While the first part of the white paper focuses on remembering, part two is all about the learning. If employees never truly learn new knowledge or skill, they certainly will not remember it. Sharon introduces four strategies for learning that, coupled with the strategies for remembering, will lead to long-term retention.

  1. Balance the use of multimedia.
  2. Limit learner control in the course design.
  3. Personalize the experience as much as possible.
  4. Be ruthless in eliminating content.

Putting it all together

Perhaps most importantly of all, the white paper closes with a summary of five business challenges we solved for our clients using a combination of these strategies for learning and remembering.

Ready to change the way you design and deliver learning? Download the white paper now!

3 Ways Corporate eLearning Projects Go Wrong

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The title of this blog post is a bit misleading. Why? There are many ways an eLearning project, or any L&D initiative, can fail to live up to expectations. No matter the cause, one of these “fail states” is usually present when projects miss the mark:

  1. The project took too long.
  2. The client isn’t happy.
  3. The project did not achieve the business or learning outcomes.

Have any of these three been true for you? If so, read on to learn about how we prevent these fail states. Keep in mind that, more often than not, we are developing large curriculums with many eLearning courses rather than a single course.

Three Outcomes With Many Causes

Ending with just one of the outcomes above can spell disaster for an eLearning project. What if the project meets its business objectives… but it took too long and the client is not happy with the process? On the flip side, what if the project went as planned and the client is pleased with the deliverables… only to find learning outcomes are not met?

The following areas can get in the way of an efficient eLearning design project:

  • Lack of content. Does the source material exist? Did we decide who will create it?
  • Lack of decision-making. How many people will review the course? Be wary not to bring in new decision-makers midway through the project who have a different vision for the design.
  • Lots of re-do’s. This one ties in to the number of decision-makers… and the project’s process. Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?
  • Not having a clear goal. The vendor should always partner with the client to identify a goal before starting the project. Some organizations do not start out with a clear goal of what people need to know or do and their intention is just general awareness of a topic. It’s important to decide which is needed: training or an information push.
  • Waiting to engage the end user. Just because Corporate likes the course does not mean the people who actually take it will like it, or have their needs met. Try not to over-focus on learner likes and dislikes… and look at learner needs instead. You do not always need to like something to learn from it.
  •  Changing tech requirements midway through a project. This one is self-explanatory. Establish clear requirements from the beginning of the project and stick to them.

What About Moving Targets?

Anyone who has worked in the field of corporate learning long enough knows that avoiding the pitfalls above is easier said than done. There are many situations where it can be next to impossible to avoid things like re-do’s and changing goals. Product launches are a great example: the goal may be to launch the product, but what it takes to get there is evolving every day. Clients often discover that what they thought when they started has changed. It’s important to have a vendor who can manage this change.

And no matter the business need or client, there are a number of ways to make sure every eLearning project is set up for success.

 An eLearning project that’s set up for success has…

  • …a strong client decision-maker.
  • …a clear goal.
  • …a clear deadline.
  • …urgency in the sense of sticking to the deadline.
  • …clear set of actions that learners are supposed to do and content that supports those actions already defined. Make sure the vendor knows where to go.
  • …a client open to new ideas and creativity. We recommend looking at content and asking “What’s really the best way for people to practice or try things out before they get to the real world?”
  • …an end in mind (what you want to achieve)… but not a solution in mind. Clients and vendors must partner to explore the best solution for the job. It might not be a 30 minute eLearning course! If people need to reference a critical piece, then a five minute course with a reference guide may be the right solution.

Above all, successful eLearning projects have mutually clear expectations for everyone involved. The vendor understands exactly what the client needs… and the number of review cycles and client decision-makers are clearly defined. Establishing these expectations also establishes trust… which keeps the team solutions-focused if and when something does go wrong.

The Link Between New Tools and Corporate Training

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Management and C-level folks love to find find new tools that will make their teams more productive. It’s exciting to find a new app, Software as a Service (SaaS) or social network that will increase efficiency or solve a perceived performance problem. That excitement tends to fade when the new tool is introduced to a team… and no one wants to use it.

You can give people the most revolutionary tool ever… but if you don’t train them on it, and show them what’s in it for them, you will not maximize use of the tool. And in the worst of scenarios, the tool will be snickered at and quickly forgotten, added to the pile of “management whims” that never made it into practice.

What’s In It For Me?

I recently read a Businessweek article discussing how the “Millenial” generation (of which I am a member) refuses to comply with corporate travel policies. Instead of using the company-sponsored hub for booking flights, cars and hotels, these pesky Millenials are using sites like Kayak.com and Travelocity.com to book cheaper flights at more convenient times. In response, American Express has gamified their travel dashboard with points, badges and leaderboards to make the process of booking corporate travel more like a game. The jury is out on whether this new approach will increase compliance with corporate travel policies.

More interesting than the article itself were the comments, where a lively discussion had emerged surrounding the ethics of using a corporate-sponsored travel hub for the sake of consistency and liability versus booking travel independently for added convenience and potentially decreased costs. Most of the comments, on both sides of the issue, were not made by Millenials, but by Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. It seems lots of people hate their corporate travel policy, finding that it gets in the way of them doing their jobs.

A corporate travel policy is a tool employees are expected to use. And for most of them, it sounds like this tool is not meeting their needs.

Demonstrate the Value of Every Tool

We will be the first to proclaim the benefits of game-based learning and gamification. Many of our solutions include these approaches, and they are proven to increase motivation in learners. But it is even more important to demonstrate the value of a tool to your employees. Show them how the tool benefits them, and how it benefits the company. Does it save them time? Save the company money? Is it easy to use? Do they know how to use all of the features?

Providing adequate training and support for a company tool is important… and that training will include a “what’s in it for me?” value proposition when properly designed. When you conduct a Needs Analysis to determine what type of training is needed, you might find that the tool itself is outdated or missing some key features. Then, the problem becomes less about the need for training, or the attitude of your learners, and more about a need to find a better tool.

Case in point

Training for new toolsOne of our Fortune 500 clients was interested in improving its instructor-led training sessions. In a capabilities presentation, we introduced them to Nearpod, a tool for delivering interactive lectures using the iPad. We conducted train the trainer sessions with their facilitators to show them the tool, demonstrate how it will make their jobs easier and their presentations better, and give them some best practices.

Since Nearpod would be new to the facilitators’ work flows, we knew we had to provide informative training to frame the experience and get them motivated to dive in. Without this training, it would be much harder to introduce a new tool and expect facilitators to start using it right away.

Link Tools and Training

Take the time to properly introduce your organization’s tools to employees. Show them the value it will add for them, and explain how it adds value to the company. Let them practice using the tool and give them ideas for getting started.

…And if none of that works, it might be time to try a new tool.

Training Needs Analysis Worksheet (Free Download)

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A soundly conducted Needs Analysis should always be the first step when you need to improve performance or change behaviors. Regardless of the type of learning solution you plan to create, taking the time to properly assess the situation and gather appropriate information will go a long way towards assuring the success of a new project.

Below, you will find a five step process for conducting a Training Needs Analysis. When we help organizations with their analysis, we recommend they follow these steps, or a similar variation. To help you through these five steps, we have created a 10-question Needs Analysis Worksheet you can fill out and use as a starting point for new project. You may fill out the form below and download it for free.

Interested in learning more about analysis? Watch our recorded webinar: Measure Twice, Cut Once: How Analysis Impacts Business Results.

And now, the five steps of a standard Training Needs Analysis.

1. Receive Training Request

Whether you receive a formal request for training or a more vague indication that there is a problem you are expected to solve, now is the time to start gathering some basic information. In this step, you will formulate an initial instructional goal (which can be revised later) and clarify your target audience… including their characteristics, background, and current skills. You will also decide if the training can be developed internally, or if you will need an external vendor.

2. Formulate a plan

Chances are you will have quite a bit of content to gather and organize. You’ll also need a plan for refining your instructional goal to make sure it aligns with business objectives. Step 2 is all about figuring out what information to gather, who to get it from, and how to get it. Zero in on your instructional goal, profile your learners, and carefully identify the skills or behaviors you want to impact.

3. Gather the data

In Step 3, it’s time to collect data and refine your plan based on data that emerges. You’ll be collecting data using methods such as stakeholder interviews, locating source content, focus groups, and task analysis.

Interviews, focus groups, and locating source content are all fairly straightforward tasks, but you may or not already be familiar with the task analysis technique. This involves isolating an individual task and identifying the current results, the desired standard, level of importance, frequency of the task, and more. Quite honestly, we could give a full workshop on just the task analysis step alone. For a more in-depth explanation, get in touch with us.

4. Analyze data and conclude the process

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary data, it’s time to analyze the information gathered and formulate findings and recommendations. You should revise your instructional goal based on the data you’ve gathered. You should now have new insights on your learners that will affect the content of the solution, the delivery format, and other constraints.

By the end of this step, you should clearly know what the optimal training solution is… and why. You’ll also know whether you can complete the training internally, or if you need to bring in an outside vendor.

5. Plan next steps

Your final step in the Needs Analysis will be a comprehensive report, which will serve as the road map for your solution design. This report will include the final instructional goal, profile of the target audience, learning objectives, and a summary of the tasks or ideas being taught. You’ll also lay out the constraints to consider in your design… and the potential delivery method. With all five steps of the Needs Analysis process completed, you should be well on your way to developing an effective learning solution.

DOWNLOAD OUR NEEDS ANALYSIS WORKSHEET

We have a created a simple, 10-question worksheet to help you kickstart your Training Needs Analysis. Use it to ask the right questions, zero in on the “need to have” information, and make a sound plan for identifying the right learning solution.